What Should Be the Gap Between Your Irons and Wedges?

Published on 09/13/2023 · 6 min readEnsure precise yardage gapping for your irons and wedges to master distance control in golf! Learn how in the comprehensive guide below!
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By Golf Expert Matt Ristine

Photo by Melanie Decker

Distance control is everything in golf. If you are going to get the ball consistently close to your targets — and keep it out of trouble — you’ll need to hit it the correct distance as often as possible. Many golfers obsess over hitting the ball in the right direction, and while that’s certainly important, one could argue that distance control is even more critical.

One of the ways to optimize your distance control is to properly “gap” the irons and wedges in your set. Not sure what that means? Not to worry — we’ll closely examine distance gapping below to explain what it is, why it’s important, and how you can optimize for it in your bag.

What Is Yardage Gapping?

The golf clubs in your bag are designed to hit the ball to varying yardages. From your driver all the way down to your sand wedge or lob wedge, each club is capable of hitting the ball a certain distance, based both on the design of the club and your personal skill level. The concept of yardage gapping is the idea that there should be a relatively even distribution of distances throughout your set, so no big holes exist in the distances you can cover.

Gapping your clubs as consistently as possible is important throughout the set, but it becomes particularly critical as you get down to the irons and wedges. These clubs are all about accuracy, and having large gaps from one club to the next in this area can lead to limitations on your game and higher scores.

A Quick Example

Let’s walk through an example to highlight how valuable dialing in this aspect of your set can be.

Imagine you hit a nice drive on a par four, and you have exactly 100 yards left to the hole from the middle of the fairway. For most golfers, that sounds like an ideal situation. There’s only one problem — you don’t have a club that comfortably hits the ball 100 yards. Instead, you tend to hit your pitching wedge around 110 yards, and your next-longest wedge — which has 52* of loft — only goes about 90 yards. As a result, there is a hole, or gap, in your set, and hitting the ball 100 yards becomes more challenging than it should be.

In this example, your only viable option is to hit a softer shot with your pitching wedge. You probably can’t force that 52* wedge to fly 10 yards farther than normal, so taking distance off of your PW is the solution. That can be done, of course, but it’s a challenging shot to dial in just right. Instead, if you did a better job of gapping the distances between your clubs, you wouldn’t have such a large hole, and you wouldn’t need to make such a big adjustment.

Analyzing Your Wedge Setup

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The key issue we are trying to address with yardage gapping is any big holes in the distances you can cover with your irons and wedges. To make the right changes to your current equipment setup, you need to understand where you are now and where any problems may lie.

To get started, take out a piece of paper and write down the average distances you hit all of your short clubs. Start from your eight or nine iron and go down to your shortest wedge. These distances don’t have to be measured by a launch monitor or anything like that — just write down a yardage that you would feel comfortable hitting each club.

With that exercise complete, you can look at your list of clubs and yardages and quickly spot signs of trouble. Are there any 20-yard gaps in the distances you can cover with full swings? You should focus on those gaps and consider making equipment changes.

The Pitching Wedge Is Key

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In many ways, this whole discussion centers on your pitching wedge and how it fits into your set. Since you likely purchased a set of irons that run from 4-PW or 5-PW, those clubs will be gapped nicely. They came as a set, and the manufacturer designed them to be gapped appropriately with lofts that gradually get higher at even intervals. Some newer sets are also starting to include approach wedges or gap wedges, so you might have an AW or GW that matches with the rest of your irons.

To make sound purchasing decisions, you first need to know the loft of your existing wedges. A good place to start is with the pitching wedge. Traditionally, pitching wedges have 48 of loft, but that number has decreased over the years. Now, 47 or 46 is common. In fact, some sets are even more aggressive with their lofts, as is the case with the Stealth Irons from TaylorMade, where the PW comes in at only 43.

Look up the specs of the set of clubs you own so you can be sure what loft is present in the pitching wedge, and it will get a lot easier to fill out the rest of your set.

Starting from the pitching wedge, gapping your wedges by keeping four degrees of loft between them is a good strategy. So, if you find that your PW has 46 of loft, you might want to shop for additional wedges that are at 50, 54, and 58. That would make for a nice set of short clubs that will cover as many stock yardages as possible at even intervals.

Of course, you could adjust this a bit if you have a 48 PW by going with 52, 56, and 60 wedges through the rest of the set. Quality wedges like the TaylorMade Milled Grind 4 are usually offered in a range of lofts every two degrees from 50 to 60, so it’s easy to customize your bag as desired.

How Many Wedges Should You Carry?

The debate of how many wedges a golfer should carry is hotly contested in certain circles. There are plenty of golfers who believe that carrying four wedges is the only way to go, while others think that you can get by with three wedges so you can make room in the bag for an additional long club (without surpassing the limit of 14 clubs imposed by the rules of golf).

Ultimately, there isn’t a “right” answer to this question. It’s largely a matter of personal preference and playing to your strengths on the course. If you happen to be good with your wedges and can adjust distances comfortably, it might be worth only carrying three so you can have another long club (like a hybrid or extra fairway wood). On the other hand, if you want to hit as many full shots as possible and wedge play isn’t necessarily your strong suit, stick with four and make a strategic sacrifice in the other part of your bag.

A Step Toward Lower Scores

Photo by Monkey Business Images

You can’t always move your golf game in the right direction by purchasing some new clubs, but this is a case where making some changes to your set can directly impact the scores you record. With the big gaps eliminated and a consistent yardage progression down through your irons and wedges, getting the ball closer to the hole will simply be easier. Analyze your current set today and make the necessary changes to start getting better results immediately!

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